Aw-His First Ejection: Bryce Harper and the Art of Emotional Containment
The Kid’s an adventure, alright. Two homers and an ejection on the same night indicate there’s a still a bit to go on the emotional IQ front. But let’s not forget, he also almost single-handedly lifted the Nationals out of a scary 5-game losing streak that had pretty much all of Washington wondering if this magical season had just been a cruel mirage.
His first homer last night put the Nats on the board for the first time in 13 innings. And if that weren’t enough, he hit his 2nd homerun ridiculously further- way into the top deck in right field at the cavernous ball park in Miami, the longest shot this season in the Marlin’s new stadium. He also made at least two beautiful defensive plays and, at a key moment, with the Marlins rallying with men on 2nd and 3rd and less than two-out, threw a laser to home plate to keep Florida from scoring.
He also dropped a ball that hit his mitt early in the game and later got himself ejected in the 9th when he hit into a double play and, frustrated with himself, tossed his helmet rather violently on the ground, just a little too close to the 1st base umpire.
On the emotional front, in addition to last night’s ejection, Bryce so far this season has:
– Smashed a bat in the hallway off the dugout early in the season, causing a laceration dangerously close to his left eye and taking the field with blood dripping down his cheek.
– Smashed a bat at home plate after a strike-out, so hard that it broke up into a hundred little splinters for which he later apologized to both the opposing team’s catcher and the ump.
– Repeated the scene a few weeks later, sending bat shards flying into the infield.
– Was replaced in an innocent double-switch situation this week and according to manager, Davey Johnson, busted up several batting helmets.
Davey points out Bryce is a “100 percenter,” but that he just can’t keep acting like this. Following the ejection, Harper’s response was an instant classic:
I just need to stop getting [angry] and just live with it and there’s nothing you can change. I just need to grow up in that mentality a little bit. Try not to bash stuff in and things like that I’ve always done my whole life and those need to change.
Yes, a moratorium on “bashing stuff in” would probably be appropriate.
He is, you know, a teenager. But a damn good one. Only Ken Griffey Jr., Mel Ott and Tony Conigliaro have ever hit more homers in the majors under the age of 20. And we haven’t hit September yet.
To my eye, Bryce is like a big ‘ol Great Dane puppy, romping around, smashing baseballs, bats, helmets, careening into walls. At least he doesn’t chew on electrical cords.
In a sport where failure happens about 70% of the time, he might want to chill just a tiny little bit. It’s a pretty tough sport for a perfectionist.